Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.
After more than 35 years working in information systems, Kevin Brown still considers work play, noting that his hobby became his profession.
“It changes about every five years in a wholesale way it seems like and continues to present a challenge,” he said. “The act of learning it and then creating from that is what’s always interested me. It’s still fun and keeps me active.”
The Houston native spent more than four years in Northwest Arkansas before returning to Texas.
Brown, 54, was vice president of information systems at Staffmark in Fayetteville when the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal named him to the Forty Under 40 class in 1999. The opportunity to join Staffmark in 1996 led him to move to Northwest Arkansas.
“I have very fond memories of Northwest Arkansas,” he said. “I still stay in touch with a lot of the leadership team that was at Staffmark. Everyone has gone on and done some fabulous things, from the CEO down to all of the direct reports. They’ve gone on and helped grow other businesses that are in the region.”
He moved to Dallas to be closer to home after starting a family. Also, in April 2001, he joined dairy products manufacturer Daisy Brand where he led the development of the company’s IT department, IT strategy and operations from inception. He worked there for more than 13 years, leaving in October 2014 as the chief information officer and senior vice president of information technology.
He also served as chief information officer at East Lake Capital Management and Fortium Partners LP. He helped Icynene-Lapolla in Houston through a merger before joining cable network Ride TV in Fort Worth.
After acquiring two networks, including Ride TV, GAC Media was formed. GAC Family, formerly Great American Country, is the media company’s flagship network launched Sept. 27 and released original Christmas movies and programming from Oct. 30 through December. GAC Living, formerly Ride TV, is the unscripted companion network to GAC Family.
“It’s a very technology-driven business in the sense that media is going through a tremendous change in the last couple of years, especially with the digital needs as far as all the different platforms that are available,” he said. “With GAC Media, in particular, I liked the idea that this was a group of people coming together to create something new and different in the form of family-friendly programming and content.”
In June, Brown joined GAC Media as chief information officer to help re-launch the two networks it acquired. He oversees a team of three in a company of about 50 employees.
“All of that experience doing mergers and acquisitions in Arkansas and all the work before that led to all of that experience coming to bear as we started something new and different,” he said.
In his current role, Brown is responsible for technology strategy and developing the company’s technology resources. He also leads operations in broadcast engineering, which is how the company transmits content to multichannel video programming distributors, such as Comcast or Verizon, and streaming services like Hulu or Sling.
“We have to get that signal from point A to point B,” he said. “It’s a digital supply chain. Therefore, I’m involved in it at a detailed level. We don’t ship physical products, but we do ship digital ones.”
Brown said the pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital platforms, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.
“It’s now a requirement,” he added. “If you weren’t in the digital space in 2020, you are now, or you’re not relevant.”
Brown considers his career highlight the opportunity to start three businesses in different industries, serve in leadership roles and contribute to their growth. He noted his time at Staffmark was especially significant in that he transitioned from a services role to “wearing the corporate IT hat.”
Brown and his wife, Michelle, reside in Dallas and have a daughter born in Fayetteville and is an Auburn University graduate. Brown is a volunteer for a car care ministry for widows and singles. He enjoys motorsports.